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Jimma town in western part of Ethiopia’s largest Oromia regional state, which is famous for its abundant coffee production endeavor, is in particular recognized for the historic Ethiopia-China cooperation in the public health sector.

Jimma town, which is one Ethiopia’s oldest towns located some 360km west of the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, is known for its account of hosting the first Chinese medical mission in Ethiopia, which was deployed to provide voluntary healthcare treatments to residents of Jimma and its surroundings back in 1974.

Notably among the first Chinese medical team was the renowned late doctor Mei Gengnian, who led the first Chinese medical mission to the East African country, and fondly remembered as a “selfless doctor” among residents of Jimma and its surroundings, where he still received homage by local community members.

Despite Mei’s sudden death in 1975 in a car accident while he was serving local communities in Jimma, his living legacy is widely regarded as the core manifestation of the broadly celebrated Ethiopia-China cooperation in the public health sector.

Jimma town and the small China Tomb village, which earned its name after Mai’s tomb that erected at the heart of the village, are still benefiting from the legendary Chinese doctor’s legacy as community members kept benefiting from Chinese goodwill in memory of the late Mai.

Mintesenot Minale, who is a medical student at the Jimma University, is one of the beneficiaries of a scholarship program, dubbed Dr. Mei Gengnian Scholarship, provided by the Chinese government for medical students enrolled at the university.

“The scholarship is given by Dr. Mei’s foundation, providing a financial grant scholarship to eight selected students in each year from the fourth year up to sixth year,” told Xinhua on Friday.

“The Dr. Mei foundation is a very good opportunity for students like me,” he said, adding “there are many students here with great potentials to perform well than what we are actually doing here, and with the new opportunities from the Chinese government, we can develop our potential and do better.”

The Dr. Mei Gengnian Scholarship scheme mainly provides financial assistance for outstanding medical science students at the Jimma University, who are selected based on their excellence.

Marcon Bashaye, a professor of sociology at the Jimma University, also spoke highly of the support from the Chinese government to communities in Jimma town in particular and the East African country in particular.

“Inspired by Doctor Mei’s legacy, many Chinese people often come here and provide support for the whole community around here, especially building a road from the main road up to the inner village and providing medical support for the aged population,” Bashaye told Xinhua on Friday.

Bashaye, who is also a resident of the small China Tomb village on the outskirts of Jimma town, also said that “the Chinese medical teams as well as China, in general, are supporting well the Ethiopian community very well.”

In April last year, Jimma town and the tiny China Tomb village had also witnessed a new road infrastructure that was financed by the Chinese government and built by the Chinese construction giant China Communications Construction.

Named after Doctor Mei Gengnian, the new road infrastructure was said to be “a clear manifestation of the historic Ethiopia-China friendly relations,” said Tan Jian, Chinese Ambassador to Ethiopia, during the road’s inauguration event.

Tan also stressed that “inspired by the legacy of Doctor Mei, China will further strengthen cooperation with Ethiopia,” as the East African country rides to achieve a middle-income economy by 2025.

“Doctor Mei left for us a very good legacy … that has inspired us for so many years in promoting the friendship and cooperation between our two peoples and our two countries,” he added.

As part of China’s continued support to Ethiopians in the public health sector, the Tirunesh-Beijing Hospital, also known as the Ethio-China Friendship Hospital, located in Akaki neighborhood on the outskirts of Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, presently hosts the 21st batch of the Chinese medical team, constituting 16 medical professionals who have specialized in various fields.

Yohannes Chala, Head of Addis Ababa Health Bureau, told Xinhua recently that “the lifesaving contribution of China’s medical assistance to Ethiopia, which lasts for more than four decades, is a successful manifestation of the growing Ethiopia-China friendship.”

“The Ethiopian government appreciates the efforts extended by the government of China through its mission in Ethiopia to improve healthcare delivery across the country,” Chala said.

The Chinese government’s assistance in the public health sector has “played paramount importance to the healthcare system to gear up to date with regard to knowledge and other required inputs,” he said.

Chala also urged the Chinese government as well as the current and upcoming Chinese medical professionals in the East African country to help spread the major techniques of traditional Chinese medical treatments in various other hospitals and healthcare institutions in the capital and beyond. Enditem

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